The chef patron of Le Cafe Anglais, creates a juicy tart from a Pink LadyA really heavy pan, preferably in iron or copper, with straight or almost straight sides and about 22-24 centimetres wide is pretty well essential for its successful execution.
2 kg Pink Lady apples
125gms unsalted butter
125gms caster sugar
200gms puff pastry
Squeeze the juice of the two lemons and put in the base of a large pudding basin or similar shaped bowl with a couple of tablespoons of water. Peel and halve the apples, remove the cores with a teaspoon and roll the halves in the juice.
With the butter slightly soft, smear it generously all over the base and sides of the cold pan. Sprinkle the sugar on the top of this butter and give the pan a shake to ensure it is evenly distributed. Crush the heads of the cloves and sprinkle over the sugar, together with the finely grated nutmeg. Drain the apples from any lemon juice and arrange them, standing on their sides, in concentric circles, embedding them in the butter/sugar mix. Pack the apples in as tight as you can then put the pan on the fiercest heat you have.
Whilst keeping a beady eye on the pan, roll out the puff pastry in to a disc about 2cm wider than the rim of the pan and let rest on a sheet of greaseproof paper on a plate in the fridge. Watch the sides of the pan very closely. You are looking for a good rich caramel colour to develop. Move the pan around on the flame to ensure the caramelisation is evenly distributed. It needs a certain courage to keep going in order to get a rich deep toffee colour heatproof surface or a pot rest. This whole process can take ten to twenty minutes, depending on the pan and the strength of the flame.
When the pan has cooled a little, after five minutes or so, drop the disc of pastry on to the apples and let the edges hang over the sides of the pan. Place the pan in a pre-heated oven (Mark 7, 220 C, 425F) and bake for fifteen minutes, or until the pastry is nicely risen. Remove from the oven and rest for a minute.
The moment of truth has arrived: place an inverted plate, slightly bigger than the pan, over the top. With the left hand firmly in place over the plate, grip the handle with an equally firm right hand and a cloth and with a determined turn of the wrist turn the pan over on to the plate. Lower the plate on to a surface, pause a moment, and then lift off the pan. Behold, one hopes, a perfect golden circle of apples. If things are not as perfect as they might be, do not despair, but grab a palette knife and shape the apples into place. This might include a bit of scraping around in the pan, gathering up some residual bits of apple and caramel. Serve warm, with a bit of double cream or vanilla ice cream.